16th May 2023
Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by episodes of binge eating followed by purging that can lead to several physical health complications if left untreated. Treatment for bulimia can include therapeutic interventions, medications, and natural remedies.
Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder that commonly causes episodes of binge eating, or consuming excessive amounts of food in a short period of time, followed by purging behaviors, or compensatory behaviors such as self-induced vomiting, use of laxatives, or excessive exercise.
Professional help is often required to safely manage bulimia and prevent severe consequences of the condition. However, there are several techniques and natural remedies that may be useful alongside treatment. Natural remedies can improve mental and physical wellbeing, thereby reducing symptoms and improve the recovery process .
People with bulimia have difficulty controlling impulses related to binge eating episodes. Nutritional planning can help reduce urges to binge by having scheduled mealtimes for the day ahead. Eating regular meals and snacks can help reduce hunger or cravings that may prompt binge episodes.
It can be useful to learn more about the body and its nutritional requirements, including what is needed for proper functioning and the consequences of malnutrition. Planning well-rounded meals will help satiate hunger, reduce the risk of overeating or skipping meals, and alleviate anxieties around eating habits. 
Maintaining an adequate intake of vitamins and minerals can help to reduce hunger and cravings that may be common in those with bulimia. 
Similarly, different types of food can have various positive effects on physical and mental wellbeing, which can help to improve the symptoms of bulimia, such as fatigue and low mood or anxiety .
Vitamins and minerals that could help improve symptoms of bulimia include :
Although mindfulness on its own will not cure or treat bulimia, utilizing mindfulness techniques can help to reduce mental distress associated with the condition, potentially helping to manage symptoms.
Meditation and yoga are two commonly practiced mindfulness techniques that have been found to reduce emotional distress, such as symptoms of anxiety and depression, which may be common in those with bulimia. Studies have also found that these techniques can improve feelings and attitudes around body image and self-esteem, thereby potentially helping to improve symptoms of bulimia .
Utilizing mindfulness techniques while eating can also help to reduce impulsive or harmful eating behaviors, potentially reducing binge episodes and increasing feelings of control around eating habits .
Herbal remedies, also known as adaptogens, are supplements made from plants that have been adapted to help improve mental and physical health. It is important to always consult with your doctor before taking herbal remedies, particularly if you take a prescribed medication, as people may react differently, and they may cause adverse effects .
Adaptogens that may be useful in reducing certain symptoms of bulimia include :
Some studies have demonstrated that acupuncture may be useful in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety, so could be a helpful addition to bulimia treatment. Although it will not cure or treat the condition, it may help to reduce emotional distress that is commonly associated with bulimia, potentially improving quality of life .
Furthermore, there is some research to suggest that acupuncture could help to reduce symptoms in those with an eating disorder, when utilized alongside a professional treatment plan .
Looking after your mental and physical health can be beneficial in reducing the impact of certain symptoms of bulimia. Commonly, those with bulimia experience low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and impairments in social functioning, so it is important to also try to manage these symptoms while treating disordered eating habits.
Self-care techniques that can help those with bulimia cope with emotional distress may include :
Similarly, it is important to try and manage physical effects that can occur with bulimia, particularly in those who engage in self-induced vomiting. This includes :
Eating disorders, such as bulimia nervosa, typically require professional advice and treatment to ensure the best chance of recovery. Treatment involves multidisciplinary therapeutic interventions and sometimes the use of medication.
Professional treatment for bulimia usually involves the use of one or more specialized types of therapy. They can help the individual explore the underlying causes of their condition, challenge and alter harmful behaviors and attitudes toward food and eating, and learn about nutrition and how to form and maintain healthy eating habits .
Different types of therapy that could be helpful for those with bulimia nervosa include:
For some people with bulimia, medication can be prescribed to help in the recovery process. Antidepressant medications can be helpful in treating bulimia, particularly some selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as fluoxetine and sertraline, and some tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), such as imipramine and amitriptyline .
Medications such as these have been found to be effective at reducing negative emotions that are associated with the development or worsening of bulimia, as well as reducing binge eating episodes and purging behaviors. However, they can also cause unwanted side effects, such as suicidal ideation in young adults and excessive sedation, so are prescribed with caution . You should meet regularly with your mental health care providers while taking medication to monitor its effectiveness and check in about side effects.